There is a Hero hidden within each one of us, to bring him to life we must embark on a journey, the Hero's Journey.
“We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us”. - Joseph Campbell
The Hero's Journey is the journey of the self to achieve self-realization.
If we do not face it, we will never have the opportunity to reach the most authentic and profound part of our being.
We all have ups and downs in life.
Life tests everyone, it spares no one.
Through the many experiences, intense emotions - be they “positive” or “negative” - and periods of stillness that we go through we have the opportunity to grow and become the Hero of our lives.
In his most famous work, "The Hero with a Thousand Faces", Campbell highlights the similarities between the Heroes of mythological tales and the stories of each one of us.
If we think of all the stories we have read and studied, from the Odyssey to children's fairy tales, as well as the very famous Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings Sagas, we find a path that unfolds precisely.
Here are the 12 stages that characterize the Hero’s Journey.
Keep reading and you’ll find out what stage of the journey you are at!
THE 12 STAGES OF YOUR JOURNEY, THE HERO’S JOURNEY
1) THE ORDINARY WORLD
Before a would-be Hero can enter the Extraordinary World, he must first live in the Ordinary World. The Ordinary World is different for each of us - it encompasses our norms, customs, conditioned beliefs, and behaviors.
The Ordinary World is our comfort zone.
At this stage, the Hero is not satisfied.
He craves to have more out of his life, but at the same time, plenty of excuses keep him in the status quo.
Perhaps you are exactly at this first stage of the journey.
Maybe you have not done “extraordinary” things yet.
But you feel deep inside that there must be more out there waiting for you.
You know that you are meant for more, that is high time you broke free from modern slavery, i.e. working 9 to 5.
2) THE CALL TO ADVENTURE
At a certain point, the Hero's normal existence is disturbed by an unexpected event.
Whether it is a serious problem, a challenge, an encounter with a special person, or an epiphany, this event will force the hero to come out of his shell and leave his Ordinary World.
Even in our life, we face unexpected challenges.
When this happens we have two possibilities:
1) Feel sorry for ourselves and complain about everything and everyone;
2) Remember the Butterfly’s story.
3) REFUSAL OF THE CALL
The Hero does not always accept the call with enthusiasm as leaving the Ordinary World is not an easy choice.
The Hero hesitates and expresses reluctance. In other words, he is afraid.
The fear of failure and uncertainty can be so great that the call is refused.
This is perhaps the stage that most identifies us with the Heroes of the stories.
Faced with a difficulty that upsets our daily life, our first reaction is refusal.
We just want things to go back to the way they used to be. We are afraid of what lies ahead. Leaving our comfort zone is tough.
If you are going through this phase, know that what you are feeling is completely natural.
Before you reject the call to adventure, know that there is a way out.
This leads us to the next stage.
4) MEETING THE MENTOR
To finds the courage to accept the call, the Hero needs help.
This is where the Mentor comes into play, a person who has already traveled a similar path to the one the Hero fears to undertake.
The Mentor's task is to prepare the Hero to face the challenges that await him and give him wise advice and tools.
However, the Mentor cannot take over the Hero's responsibility and overcome his challenges.
If you are facing a difficult time right now, look for a trusted person who can show you the path.
Make sure to take advice from someone who has already walked the path you want to undertake.
But don’t fool yourself; remember that the Mentor can show you the way, then it's up to you to walk it.
As the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.
5) CROSSING THE THRESHOLD
The Hero accepts the challenge, the call to adventure.
Putting aside the initial hesitation, instructed by the mentor the Hero is now ready to embark on his adventure and cross the first threshold to enter the Extraordinary World.
Who knows, maybe you are at this stage of the Hero’s Journey too.
Think for example of that decision that has haunted you for weeks, that choice you are afraid of making.
You can either continue to live in the reassuring mediocrity of a life you know all too well.
Or, you can decide whether to embark on your own adventure.
The challenges that await you on the other side are unknown, but the reward can be priceless.
What are you going to choose?
6) TESTS, ALLIES, AND ENEMIES
After embarking on the new path, the Hero must understand what the rules of this path are.
By testing himself in new experiences, the Hero can learn a lot about himself.
Our Hero will face new challenges and this will lead him to create new allies and enemies.
This also happens in our daily life.
When we decide to get out of our shells, we find ourselves tossed around in new experiences and we have the opportunity to make new friends that will prove to be extremely valuable.
No man is an island!
If you want to achieve ambitious goals, you need someone who has your back.
During our adventure, however, we will also meet people who are ready to hinder us.
Please don't get discouraged, it's part of the game!
Every protagonist must have a worthy antagonist.
7) THE APPROACH TO THE INMOST CAVE
At this point in the story, the Hero arrives at the edge of a dangerous and threatening place, where the object of his search is hidden.
Often this is the place where the greatest enemy of the Hero resides, also considered the most dangerous place in the Extraordinary World.
At this point, the Hero will cross the second great threshold, which is the most fatal difficulty of all, the ultimate battle.
Before entering, however, there will be an "approach" phase, during which the Hero will have to get ready and study the best strategies to dodge the threats that will hinder his entry.
Think for example of the first episode of the Pirates of the Caribbean Saga: The Curse of the Black Pearl; when Capitan Jack Sparrow sets sail for Isla de Muerta.
But also think about your own life!
Maybe you are experiencing this stage, you are approaching a great test.
How are you preparing yourself? Have you already thought about how to dodge or recover from the inevitable pitfalls that you will find along the way?
“If you fail to plan, you pretty much plan to fail”. - Jillian Michaels
8) THE ORDEAL - THE BIG TEST
The Hero may curse the path he has taken because the event he has been preparing for can cost him a very high price. The Hero experiences more difficult hurdles and obstacles, some of which may lead to a life crisis. The Hero at this stage must face his greatest fears.
In all stories, the Ordeal is represented by a great confrontation.
In our lives instead, it can be an event that marks and tries us a lot, especially emotionally.
9) THE REWARD
Once the ordeal has been tackled, the Hero is finally worthy of this title and can savor his reward (a treasure, a sword, or the beloved).
Sometimes the reward is not an object or a person, but a greater knowledge and self-awareness.
The prize is therefore proof of the Hero's personal growth.
This is also the time for a short rest before the inbound journey.
How can we apply this stage of the Hero's Journey to our daily life?
I invite you to be extremely clear, from the very beginning about what the prize you aspire to is.
What do you want to achieve?
Often in life, we are faced with really difficult moments, but, if we can put them in perspective and see these difficulties as part of a bigger plan, going through them will be much easier.
So, once again, do you have a clear idea of what your goal is?
Do you have a strong WHY?
Remember that, REASONS COME FIRST, RESULTS COME SECOND.
10) THE ROAD BACK
The story's not over just yet.
Now that the Hero has seized the reward, the Hero tries to return to the Ordinary World, but more dangers arise on the road back from the Inmost Cave.
The Hero realizes that he must leave the Extraordinary world behind once and for all and that, other dangers, temptations or trials await him before succeeding.
The Hero prepares for the ultimate battle - the climax.
What does this stage correspond to in our daily life?
Think of all those moments when maybe you reached the first milestone and then let your guard down.
It didn't go very well, did it?
11) THE RESURRECTION
Here is the true climax of the story.
Everything that happened prior to this stage culminates in a crowning test for the Hero, as the Dark Side gets one last chance to triumph over the Hero.
It is not the greatest test, but the final one.
Having overcome this umpteenth crisis, the Hero, by now reborn, can finally return to his Ordinary life, but nothing will be the same again.
In our lives, every time we find ourselves facing difficult periods, even after having overcome them, we have to deal with the aftermath.
Resurrection means accepting that a part of us died during that problematic trial and becoming aware that another part, stronger and more prepared, was born from the ashes.
12) THE RETURN WITH THE ELIXIR
This is the final stage of the Hero's journey in which he returns home to his Ordinary World.
He has grown as a person, learned many things, and faced many terrible dangers and even death, but now, he looks forward to the start of a new life.
His return may bring fresh hope to those he left behind, a direct solution to their problems, or perhaps a new perspective for everyone to consider.
For our journey to be complete and meaningful, we must learn to share what we have learned along the way with others, and become their mentors if necessary.
“Success isn't just about what you accomplish in your life it's about what you inspire others to do”. - Anonymous
If you find yourself at this stage of life and have already gotten your dose of satisfaction and success, now it is the time to give something back.
The Internet today allows you to do it at an extremely low cost and with an audience that can embrace the entire world population.
Here ends our hero's journey
Below I have also put you an animated video summary - really cool - prepared by TED experts. Don’t miss it!
THE HERO’S JOURNEY, THE HERO OF THE SELF
Way too often we fail to understand our path.
We happen to feel at the mercy of events and we seem doomed to repeat the same script over and over as if there was no alternative.
Yet, if we looked more carefully, we could see that the events were very different from each other and it was our way of dealing with them that produced the result we got.
Like the Heroes we met in mythology and stories, we are the protagonists of our life stories for better or for worse.
We face fears, doubts, and uncertainties, but we also have the opportunity to discover new “treasures” and resources waiting to come to light.
“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls. The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek”. – Joseph Campbell
TIME TO MAKE A CHOICE
I don't know what stage of life you are at this very moment, but what I do know is that every day we are called to make an important decision.
We can either choose to be the Hero of our lives or the victim.
I do hope that the Hero's journey will help you better grasp what is happening to you in life.
Hopefully, you’ll be equipped with new awareness and face your journey in the best possible way.
“Life truly becomes exactly what you make it. The purpose and meaning of life is the purpose and meaning that you give it. All the choices lead to the reality you are experiencing”. - Steven Redhead
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Would you help me reach as many people as possible so that they can be inspired to embark on their journey of self-discovery and become the Heroes of their lives?
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